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Former Nebraska students among women suing NCAA for negligence on sexual assault claims

Former Nebraska students among women suing NCAA for negligence on sexual assault claims

LINCOLN — In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in Michigan, seven women — including four who attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln — accused the NCAA of failing to protect them on their respective campuses from alleged sexual assaults by male student-athletes.

Two of the four UNL students who are plaintiffs in the case are named: Sheridan Thomas and Capri Davis.

Davis is a former Husker volleyball player who took a leave of absence from the program last year before transferring to Texas.

A UNL spokeswoman said the university received a copy of the lawsuit Wednesday and cannot comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit stated Davis chose to transfer in part due to UNL’s lack of response to her complaint that two Nebraska football players groped her — and a friend, who is one of the unnamed plaintiffs — at a party.

Davis filed a complaint with NU’s Title IX office in April 2019. Her friend — the unnamed plaintiff — claimed she was raped by two football players in August 2018, right after she enrolled in school. One of the two men she said raped her was also one of the men who groped her and Davis at the party.

According to the lawsuit, Nebraska’s Title IX office did not start an investigation after Davis’ complaint. In August 2019, Davis learned that the same two football players who had groped her had been accused of rape by another UNL student.

Those two players, Andre Hunt and Katerian Legrone, have since been charged with first-degree sexual assault in Lancaster County court for that alleged rape. After Davis and her friend returned to the Title IX office another time to file a complaint against the two, an investigation was, according to the lawsuit, finally opened.

In October 2019, the lawsuit claimed Davis and two other plaintiffs attended a party and were yelled at and harassed by Hunt and Legrone, who also attended the party.

NU and the U.S. Department of Education both have policies prohibiting parties from retaliating against their accusers.

Davis eventually took a leave from the volleyball team.

Soon after, according to the lawsuit, “a rumor started that Davis was pregnant and that a friend of hers who was a male student-athlete on the football team, was the father.”

The rumor was false, and the lawsuit claimed Nebraska’s media and communications staff advised Davis to shoot down the rumors.

“The burden to address the pregnancy rumors was placed solely on the shoulders of Davis, the female student-athlete,” the lawsuit alleged.

On Nov. 4, 2019, Davis posted on Twitter: “thank you for the concerns for my health this season but just so we’re clear, i will not be expecting ANYBODYS child any time soon.”

Davis’ grades slipped, according to the lawsuit, and she stopped walking around the athletic facilities because seeing male student-athletes who supported her alleged assaulters was “unbearable” for her.

According to the lawsuit, the Title IX office informed the unnamed plaintiff in January 2020 that there had been no finding in the investigation into the groping allegations. That plaintiff then told Davis.

The other student named in the lawsuit, Sheridan Thomas, alleged she was raped in August 2015 — five days before classes started — by a male student-athlete in Cather Hall, a former residence hall on campus.

Over the course of several months, UNL police and the Title IX office investigated, with no charges being filed and the office finding that the accused version of the events — that the sex was consensual — more closely aligned with the evidence gathered. While appealing the decision, Thomas was academically dismissed from the school and ultimately didn’t return to UNL or any other school.

“UNL has fostered a culture in which female victims are discouraged from reporting sexual assaults, sexual harassment, stalking, and other forms of gender discrimination when those acts are perpetrated by male student-athletes in order to protect UNL, the male athletics programs, male student-athletes, and the NCAA, at the expense of the female victims,” the lawsuit alleged.

The other alleged assaults took place at Michigan State and one unnamed Division I school, according to the lawsuit.

Omaha World-Herald: Local Sports

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